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This review first appeared in the March 2009 issue of hifi & stereo magazine You can also read this review of the Elac 330 CE speaker in its original German version. We translated it through a syndication arrangement with our German colleagues. As is customary for our own reviews, the writer's signature at review's end shows an e-mail address should you have questions or wish to send feedback. All images contained in this review are the property of or Elac. - Ed.

Reviewer: Jörg Dames
Sources: Fonel Simplicité (variable outputs), Wadia Wadia 170i Transport & Apple iPod & Benchmark DAC1 USB
Amplification: pre/power - Myyrad MXA 2150, Funk LAP-2.V2; integrated - Fonel Emotion, Abacus Ampino Rieder, Lua 4040C
Speakers: Thiel CS 2.4 and SCS4, Sehring S 703 SE, Quadral Rondo
Cables: Low-level Straight Wire Virtuoso, high-level HMS Fortissimo, Reson LSC 350
Review Component Retail: €3.580/pr (optional LS 65 stands €598/pr)

Taste, beliefs, preconceptions. Which is it? Certainly not objective truths I could back with solid science. Even outside hifi, certain things I'm not completely behind. In this hobby, take biwire terminals. Or turntables (no hate mail, please; including from press colleagues). Or monitor speakers. And... well, I best stop here to add than in the first two instances, it's not necessarily sonic doubt that governs my biases. It's sheer pragmatism. The obsessive hunt after good sound needs to be grounded from time to time.

Pragmatism and mini monitors aren't equally wedded. Instead, I'd always viewed those as compromises. Past tense that. Even if I haven't converted completely yet where such speakers go, on the listening joy versus euro meter I am getting considerable warmer. And today's 330CE tester by Elac isn't even a normal compact box. At least if one disregards depth, it's a rather - um, compact compact.

Tech & concept
But she isn't normal in other regards either. Start with form factor which admittedly caters to industrial design. Elac's engineers cite additional acoustic advantages however. Reducing the baffle width surrounding the two drivers to the absolute minimum reduces edge diffraction and wave bending to create a "sound liberated from the enclosure". This unusual chassis isn't MDF but compression-formed aluminum. That maximizes stiffness and resonance attenuation and thus, dilutes box talk. We'll not talk attenuation of material costs however, particularly when Elac says this enclosure (and the drivers and crossover) are made entirely in Germany. Given global economics, that's a fine point in their favor but no longer true for the matching but optional LS65 stands (€598/pr).

Their fit 'n' finish is equally high and with the 330C, creates both integrated cosmetics and literal unity. The 330s ship with a special plate which not only affords the spike-coupled speakers a perfect perch but allows them to be solidly bolted down for topple-proof -- and presumably also acoustically beneficial -- peace of mind. Extra kudos are due Elac's typical footers applied to the stands. They are of the comfortably adjustable sort and always accompany Elacs in pointy and floor-saving dull trim. Equally typical but specific also to the tester are the kind of drivers used. The 2.900Hz plus range is covered by their in-house developed JET, an evolution of Oskar Heil's popular air motion transformer about which my previous review on Elac's FS247 spilled words to not warrant repetition - except that for the 330, Elac incorporated tweaks to layout, gluing and layering of the folded foil membranes.

For the mid-woofer too, the CE330 essentially copies the aluminium/crystal sandwich diaphragm of the FS 247 but grows the diameter by 30mm to 180. More profound driver tweaks relate to long linear drive technology which is Elac speak for an under-hung voice coil (short coil, long gap) necessitating a strong magnetic motor. Akin to my descriptions of Thiel's SCS4, it implies that regardless of excursion, the voice coil remains within the magnetic flux field and thus stroke stays linear to distortion. I'll tip my hand early and confirm that in matters of SPL stability and relative to its size, Elac's 330CE most assuredly makes big waves.

Steep filtering assists. The higher the degree of acoustical roll-off between drivers, the less breach into out-of-band frequencies occurs. Between electrical, mechanical and geometry-based influences, Elac claims ca. 30dB per octave or a 5
th-order equivalent. Another Elac specialty is the included JET DC or Dispersion Control tuning element. It's a foam ring to surround the tweeter primarily when placed in highly reflective live rooms. It bundles the off-axis response into more of a directional beam and attenuates the diffusive reflective sound elements but even the frequency response in the upper range is slightly affected, says the maker.